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Ranking the Top 25 rookies of 2020

September 28, 2020

Some were top prospects expected to stand out when given the chance to show what they could do in the big leagues. Some were known quantities on Top 30 lists who took off with the opportunity offered to them. And still others were off-the-radar players who showed that perhaps they

Some were top prospects expected to stand out when given the chance to show what they could do in the big leagues. Some were known quantities on Top 30 lists who took off with the opportunity offered to them. And still others were off-the-radar players who showed that perhaps they were overlooked. Combined, they make up our 2020 Top 25 rookies rankings.

1) Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners
.262/.364/.437, 58 G, 11 HR, 37 R, 28 RBIs

Though he scuffled in September, he still led all rookies in total bases (90) and tied for the lead in home runs (11) while playing center field every day for the Mariners.

2) Jake Cronenworth, 2B, Padres
.285/.354/.477, 54 G, 4 HR, 26 R, 20 RBIs

He began the year as a super-utility player and is ending it as one of the most productive second basemen in baseball, with his .831 OPS ranking third among all players at the position.

3) Devin Williams, RHP, Brewers
4-1, 0.33 ERA, 27 IP, 53 K, .090 BAA, 0.63 WHIP

He gave up one earned run all year, back in his second outing on July 27, and allowed just eight hits and struck out 17.67 per nine thanks largely to a ridiculous changeup.

4) Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers
2-2, 2.31 ERA, 46 2/3 IP, 46 K, .193 BAA, 0.84 WHIP

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball and the top pitching staff, and Gonsolin has been in the thick of it with an ERA that would be fourth-best in the NL if he had enough innings to qualify.

5) Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
.233/.302/.436, 56 G, 11 HR, 33 R, 31 RBIs

Yes, he slumped at the end of the year, but he still led all rookies in RBIs (31), stolen bases (9) and tied for the rookie lead with Lewis in home runs (11) while finishing second in total bases (88).

6) Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates
.376/.442/.682, 24 G, 5 HR, 17 R, 11 RBIs

It was quite a month for Hayes, who made his big league debut on Sept. 1 but still managed to finish second in total bases among all rookie third basemen. He never went more than one game without at least one hit, all while playing plus defense.

7) Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies
.338/.400/.481, 44 G, 4 HR, 24 R, 23 RBIs

Among qualified rookies, Bohm was second in OBP (.400) and finished in the top five in average (.338), SLG (.481), OPS (.881), extra-base hits (14) and total bases (77).

8) Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
3-2, 1.95 ERA, 32 1/3 IP, 41 K, .172 BAA, 1.08 WHIP

He jumped out ahead of several other young Braves pitchers by striking out 11.4 per nine over six starts, allowing just 5.8 hits per nine and two earned runs or fewer in all but one of his starts this year.

9) Willi Castro, SS, Tigers
.349/.381/.550, 36 G, 6 HR, 21 R, 24 RBIs

Castro swung the bat well from both sides of the plate right out of the gate since debuting on Aug. 12, and he was red-hot as the season came to an end, hitting .362/.402/.564 in September.

10) Ryan Mountcastle, OF, Orioles
.333/.386/.492, 36 G, 5 HR, 12 R, 23 RBIs

Anyone who saw Mountcastle hit in the Minors (.295/.328/.471) had a sense he could hit big league pitching and boy has he, with a .333 batting average that would put him second in the AL race if he had enough ABs to qualify.

11) Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
3-1, 2.57 ERA, 56 IP, 44 K, .220 BAA, 1.09 WHIP

May was very consistent in 2020, never allowing more than two earned runs in any start. He began missing more bats in September, with nearly one per inning in the season’s final month.

12) Sean Murphy, C, A’s
.233/.364/.457, 44 G, 7 HR, 21 R, 14 RBIs

Murphy has done a nice job behind the plate and provided power at it, leading all rookie catchers in a number of offensive categories, including home runs, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits.

13) Kwang Hyun Kim, LHP, Cardinals
3-0, 1.62 ERA, 39 IP, 24 K, .197 BAA, 1.03 WHIP

The 32-year-old lefty has quietly made a major contribution to the Cardinals’ rotation, with an ERA that leads all rookie starters, despite missing time on the injured list with a renal infarction.

14) Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros
5-2, 3.48 ERA, 54 1/3 IP, 54 K, .188 BAA, 0.99 WHIP

The Astros were forced to use a lot of rookie pitchers in 2020 and Javier provided some stability for the playoff-bound team, finishing third among rookie pitchers in strikeouts.

15) Triston McKenzie, RHP, Indians
2-1, 3.24 ERA, 33 1/3 IP, 42 K, .179 BAA, 0.90 WHIP

He was used in relief down the stretch to prepare for a potential postseason role, but showed plenty to be a starter long-term, with 11.34 K/9 and an impressive 4.67 BB/9 rate.

16) Jared Walsh, 1B, Angels
.293/.324/.646, 33 G, 9 HR, 19 R, 26 RBIs

Walsh finished behind only Lewis and Robert among rookies in home runs and he did it in less than one half of the at-bats of that pair.

17) James Karinchak, RHP, Indians
1-2, 1 SV, 2.67 ERA, 27 IP, 53 K, .159 BAA, 1.11 WHIP

The top three on the American League rookie strikeout leader list are starters, followed by Karinchak, who struck out 17.7 per nine innings.

18) Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox
2-0, 3.97 ERA, 34 IP, 35 K, .197 BAA, 1.12 WHIP

It’s been an impressive return from Tommy John surgery for Dunning as he’s helped settle the back end of the White Sox rotation with a 9.3 K/9 rate over seven starts.

19) Bobby Dalbec, 1B, Red Sox
.263/.359/.600, 24 G, 8 HR, 13 R, 16 RBIs

Dalbec tried to match Walsh in terms of showing off plus power and actually topped the Angels' first baseman with 10.13 AB/HR (11 for Walsh) and he finished with an impressive .338 ISO.

20) Andrés Giménez, SS, Mets
.263/.333/.398, 49 G, 3 HR, 22 R, 12 RBIs

Giménez took the Mets starting shortstop job from Amed Rosario in September and has the chance to play there a long time on his defense alone. He also held his own at the plate, even showing some power with three homers in September.

21) Mauricio Dubón, OF, Giants
.274/.337/.389, 55 G, 4 HR, 21 R, 19 RBIs

A super-utility type, Dubón settled in as the Giants’ center fielder was a dependable member of the team as it fought to make the postseason.

22) Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays
.281/.382/.641, 24 G, 7 HR, 15 R, 11 RBIs

With a little more time, Arozarena probably ends up higher on this list as he will undoubtedly be a contributor in the Rays’ postseason run after homering once every 9.14 at-bats and finishing with a .359 ISO.

23) Sixto Sánchez, RHP, Marlins
3-2, 3.46 ERA, 39 IP, 33 K, .250 BAA, 1.21 WHIP

His last two starts (7 IP, 9 ER) didn’t help him any, but Sánchez showed off as electric stuff as any rookie pitcher, one who will undoubtedly get a chance to shine on the playoff stage.

24) Matt Foster, RHP, White Sox
6-1, 2.20 ERA, 28 2/3 IP, 31 K, .162 BAA, 0.87 WHIP

Outside of two outings as the opener, Foster saw nearly all of his work coming in the sixth inning or later, and he’s impressed with an overall 9.73 K/9 rate and 3.44 K/BB rate.

25) Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals
1-0, 1.57 ERA, 23 IP, 26 K, .175 BAA, 1.04 WHIP

Zimmer fought his way back from many injuries, and got hurt again near the end of the season, but it’s hard to overlook how dominant he was in relief this year, with 5.5 H/9 and 10.2 K/9 rates.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly MLB Pipeline Podcast.